Daryl Morey calls Royce White arguably ‘the worst first-round pick ever’

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The Houston Rockets selected Royce White with the No. 16 pick in the 2012 draft.

He spent a year with the Rockets while anxiety issues kept him from being with the team and was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers, who cut him before this season began. At this point, it appears to be a huge longshot White will ever play in the NBA.

Since 1972, just five other players have been drafted that high without playing in the NBA:

  • Nerlens Noel (No. 6 in 2013 by 76ers)
  • Lucas Nogueira (No. 16 in 2013 by Hawks)
  • Fran Vasquez (No. 11 in 2005 by Magic)
  • Frederic Weis (No. 15 in 1999 by Knicks)
  • Len Bias (No. 2 in 1986 by Celtics)

Noel will obviously get on the court, perhaps as early as this season. Nogueira has plenty of time to come stateside.

That leaves White in rare, though not quite unprecedented, company as Rockets general manager Daryl Morey suggests.

Morey, via Ben DuBose of ClutchFans (hat tip: Matt Moore of Eye on Basketball):

“I take some sort of pride that you could argue that Royce White is the worst first-round pick ever. He’s the only one that never played a minute in the NBA that wasn’t just a foreign guy staying in Europe. It just shows we swing for the fence,” Morey quipped.

    White isn’t the worst first-round pick ever, and Morey doesn’t believe that.

    Analytically inclined people like Morey are process-oriented, not result-oriented. Morey has sound reasons for drafting White, whose basketball talent dictated he should have gone much higher in the draft. Concerns about his anxiety issues rightly pushed him down draft boards, but the reward outweighed the risk where Morey selected him.

    That logic matters more to Morey than whether White actually panned out as an NBA player. Calculated risks aren’t bad moves if the calculations were correct, regardless of how the hand unfolds.

    If Morey just means based on results, Bias, who died from cocaine overdose days after the draft, was a worse pick by that standard. After all, he was drafted 14 spots higher than White.

    But it seems a little cold to debate whether a player who died or a player who couldn’t overcome his anxiety issues was the worst first-round pick of all time, which leads to my final and most-significant point.

    Isn’t it a little insensitive for Morey to publicly chastise a person whose mental state has caused himself great distress? White didn’t work out in the NBA, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve compassion.

    It’s one thing to discuss how and why White didn’t make the NBA, but it’s another thing to single him out as “the worst first-round pick ever” when the standard used to select him doesn’t even put him at the bottom of the list. This just feels like unfairly piling on.

    Reports: Pelicans to sign Jameer Nelson with Rondo out

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    With Rajon Rondo out 4-6 weeks with a sports hernia, the New Orleans Pelicans were looking for a solid backup point guard.

    This week, to make room to sign Richard Jefferson, the Denver Nuggets waived veteran Jameer Nelson.

    While other teams such as the Rockets were calling, the Pelicans and Nelson have reached a deal, reports both Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

    Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports added this.

    Nelson, in his 14th NBA season, became the top free agent on the market and received interest from contenders such as the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder and several other franchises that hoped to add the respected and accomplished veteran. But for Nelson, the Pelicans represent an opportunity to play significant minutes and provide leadership.

    The Pelicans had a full roster of 15 players, they could have waited until next Tuesday and gotten a disabled player exception to add a 16th player, but they decided to go with something more permanent.

    Jrue Holiday starts at the point for the Pelicans but with Rondo out — he was supposed to start next to Holiday — there is no depth at the position. The Pelicans can have Nelson step in and get minutes from the first time he steps on the court.

    Nelson is still a solid pick-and-roll point guard, but what he brings to the table the Pelicans need more is shooting — he shot 38.8 percent from three last season and is a good spot up player. He can penetrate and make plays off handoffs as well, but it’s his shooting on a team that needs it that will be most valued.

    The Pelicans have started the season 0-2 with losses to Memphis and Golden State. They take on the Lakers in Los Angeles Sunday night.

    DeMarcus Cousins fined $25,000 for cursing at fan

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    Near the end of New Orleans’ season-opening loss in Memphis, DeMarcus Cousins started getting into a war of words with a female Grizzlies fan, an exchange where allegedly “F-bombs” were dropped in both directions.

    That’s going to cost Cousins.

    Saturday the league announced that the Pelicans’ center has been fined $25,000 for “directing inappropriate language towards a fan.”

    Cousins got a technical foul during this exchange, and that has been rescinded.

    Cousins has averaged 31 points and 10 rebounds a game through two games this season, but it hasn’t been enough as New Orleans has started the season 0-2.

    It’s not about the shoes: Kevin Durant loses his, blocks two shots anyway

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    Shoes? Kevin Durant don’t need no stinkin’ shoes.

    Early in the second quarter of the Warriors win in New Orleans Friday, Durant came out of his shoes on a layup in the lane. He then picked up his shoe, carried it to the other end, flipped it to the bench, and played defense without it, and while he got moved out of the way allowing an offensive rebound for the Pelicans he then proceeded to block Tony Allen twice at the rim.

    Durant — after deciding to play the rest of the game in shoes — had seven blocks on the night, to go with 22 points.

    Joel Embiid frustrated, wants more post touches, to play back-to-backs

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    Joel Embiid remains a frustrated man.

    He wants to be unleashed on the NBA, and he feels he’s being held back.

    Part of that is not playing in back-to-backs — Embiid started Friday night against Boston but will sit out by plan Saturday night against the Raptors in Toronto. Embiid knows the plan to help protect a body that has played only 31 games in three seasons before this one and was not cleared for most of training camp, but that doesn’t mean he likes it, as he told Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia.

    “I just want to feel like an NBA player,” Embiid said.  “I feel like I’m not an NBA player because I can’t play back-to-back.”

    I get his frustration, but can you blame the Sixers for treating the guy like he’s made of glass at this point? Hopefully, later in the season, he can be cleared to play on both ends.

    His second frustration came from the loss to the Celtics on Friday — he wants more post touches. In the video above he is clear, “I didn’t get the ball enough in the post.”

    He’s right here. Embiid had three post-ups all game, one in each of the game’s first three quarters (stat via Synergy Sports). Embiid is efficient in the post — he has shot 9-of-12 on those plays overall this season and the Sixers score 1.33 points per possession when he does. That will work especially well against teams going small (for example, the Cavaliers with Kevin Love at the five), although Friday night Boston had big man Aron Baynes starting at center (in part because of Embiid, in part because Marcus Smart was out injured). Still, Embiid can score on Baynes.

    Take a look at Embiid’s shot chart from Friday night.

    Part of this is on him with all the threes, but they have to utilize him better. It’s part of the Sixers growing pains that will come this season.